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FPL sends 140 linemen, staff to Puerto Rico

Posted at 7:16 PM, Jan 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-08 19:16:45-05

Florida Power & Light sent another wave of workers to Puerto Rico to help restore power to the island, four months after the power was knocked out by Hurricane Maria.

About 140 linemen and support staff with FPL departed PBIA on a charter plane Monday afternoon. They will be joining hundreds of other workers sent to the island to help people in desperate need of electricity.

The group is comprised of FPL workers from across the state of Florida.

All of the island's 3.5 million residents lost power due to Hurricane Maria in late September. Hundreds of thousands of people are still without power on the island four months later. FEMA has estimated it could take until May for power to be fully restored.

"We feel a responsibility to help speed power power restoration in Puerto Rico, partly because many of our customers and employees have strong ties to the island, but largely because it's the right thing to do," said Manny Miranda, senior vice president of power delivery for FPL, in a statement. "Having completed the unprecedented restoration of more than 4.4 million FPL customers following Hurricane Irma, I am confident our highly skilled team of lineworkers, management and support staff will quickly begin making a difference for so many of our fellow Americans."

Workers said they plan to be there for 30 days but could remain on the island as long as the company's assistance is requested.

A handful of workers will be leaving their families behind here in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast. We spoke to lineman Matthew Jenkins from Port St. Lucie who has worked for FPL for 36 years -- he said it's an honor to go overseas to help people in need.

"It's part of our code of excellence for what we stand for as a union. That's part of our code, is to get people's lights on. For these people over there that have been suffering for so long, to us -- it's in our blood. When you turn us loose, if we're able and have the material or the means, we're going to get people's lights on," he said.

Jus two weeks ago, FPL sent more than 100 bucket trucks and electric equipment on a barge at the Port of Fort Pierce, bound for Puerto Rico.

FPL is working with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other electric company contractors on the island.